by Karin Beery

Freelance editing is an interesting profession—we’re essentially hired by authors to point out everything they’re doing wrong (and hopefully some things they’re doing right). Our goal is to help them polish their manuscripts so they’re ready for publication or submission. Here are the top five ways we can help them do that.*

  1. Edit to your preferences. If you don’t like the way a character looks or talks, change it. If you don’t like the Oxford comma, leave it out. If you’re okay with swearing in a Christian novel, keep it in there. You’re the editor. You should be able to decide what stays and what goes.
  2. Edit everything. Don’t worry if you’ve never read a political thriller. Fiction rules are fiction rules, so you should be able to translate your romance-editing experience into any novel situation. The same is true for grammar rules. They don’t change, so it doesn’t matter if you never read fiction; go ahead and edit that novel the same way you would a doctoral thesis.
  3. Look to the classics. Some of the most popular, best-known books are the classics. Clearly those authors knew what they were doing. If you get stuck, open Mark Twain, Charlotte Bronte, or Francis Bacon—see what they did well, then edit your client’s manuscripts to match.
  4. Take your time. Good work takes time, and you work hard. It’s okay to take a few days off here and there. Your author can’t publish or submit until he gets the manuscript back from you anyway, so you do you. The manuscript will be there when you’re ready to work.
  5. Get comfortable with your client. Writing is a personal art form, so the editing process can be emotional and often difficult for an author. The best way to help your author feel comfortable is to treat her like family—forget formalities and be brutally honest. Pretend like you’re at Thanksgiving dinner and just say what needs to be said. No filter required.

Mastering these five techniques will help you help authors achieve their publishing dreams!

*APRIL FOOL’S DAY! Please, please, don’t listen to me today!

Owner of Write Now Editing, Karin Beery is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Christian Editor Network, where she teaches several editing classes through the PEN Institute and serves as the coordinator for the Christian Editor Connection. She is the Managing Editor of Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Her sophomore novel, Practically Married, is a 2020 INSPY Award semi-finalist.